Hannah’s Adventures: Birmingham and #SBSEvent2019 – Part One

If you follow me on social media you will know that back in October, I was and winner of SBS (Small Business Sunday) that was created by Theo Paphitis. Earlier this week, I went on an adventure to Birmingham to attend the SBS Annual Event. This is a conference with a number of different speakers put on for the SBS Winners.

Chris went to work this morning and Jaxon and I went to knitting group as it’s the school holidays. Then after lunch (and some play time) Jaxon and I collected Chris from work and then we all went to the station at Milton Keynes so that I could catch my train up to Birmingham.

It should have been that simple. On my arrival at Milton Keynes Central, the train I was going to catch was already 2 minutes delayed – not an issue at all. I made a detour to the toilet on my way to the platform for the train then grabbed a hot drink from the kiosk to drink on the train. This was kind of mistake one but I wouldn’t know that until I was on the train.

The expected time for the delayed train got longer and longer, 27 minutes late in fact. According to the announcements there had been trespassers on the line near Wembley and that was slowing down all the trains heading northbound on this particular bit of track. I think it was delaying the southbound too but I’m not sure.

The train arrives at 1650ish and all the people who had been waiting then get on the same train. I ended up stood in the end of the carriage – which wouldn’t have been a problem but I was then stood trying to stop my suitcase falling over, as well as not falling over a guy’s bike and then holding on without spilling my hot chocolate (which I think was heading towards tepid by this point…).

As we left Milton Keynes station, I was resisting the urge to sing along to my music (Come From Away – Broadway Cast and Les Miserables – 10th Anniversary cast) while looking out the window. We went past what used to the railway sheds at Wolverton, then I figured I might be able to see Chris’s old office. It just happened that his old office is on a hill and had a direct line of sight to the railway so I could spot the building really easily.

Lots of people around me got off at Northampton which meant that I could get a seat. In my rush to get my suitcase on the rack and then find my seat I nearly elbowed a fellow passenger in the head (but at least I didn’t hit him with the suitcase!). I sat down with three lads who were then all discussing which train they needed to be on as more and more stops were being skipped to try and still get to Birmingham New Street on time. Two of the lads decided to get off straight away and they’d get on the next train which would hopefully still be stopping at Birmingham International Airport.

After settling in my seat, I put in a refund request for my train ticket. I’m not sure I’ll get much back as it was 27 minutes late (so would be the same as if it had been 15 minutes late…) but it would be something. I also got a reply from London Northwestern Trains on Twitter so I think their social media person must have been on the case given the number of trains that were delayed and how many complaints they were probably fielding. I then got on with a couple of others bits. I was still working on a blog post as we started to get closer to Birmingham so I got my things together ready to get off the train.

Thankfully my lovely host for the night (friend of a friend) had just been in touch about dinner, she was doing pasta and would happily stick some more on for me. Yes please and thank you! I offered to bring dessert in exchange – this seemed like a good idea! We agreed on it needing to be something chocolatey and I spotted a small supermarket in the station so decided that I’d grab something there and then be on the next train to Sutton Coldfield where I was staying. I also had a brief look in Foyles to see if they had any Hobonichi planners in stock but they only have them in the London stores it seems. I also stopped briefly at the Moleksine shop in the station too. (I know I know, I don’t need any more planners or notebooks lol)

I headed down to the platform and waited for the next train. It arrived within a few minutes and then there was a bit of a scramble to get onboard. I found a seat and got comfortable.

Then I almost missed my stop…

I’d been listening to the announcements and even said to myself “It’s the next one” and even then I nearly missed it! The announcements in our carriage just seemed to be really unclear, so having just caught the end of the announcement I realised we were at Sutton Coldfield so grabbed my backpack and my suitcase. My suitcase was in the overhead rack and clearly I misjudged how heavy it was or something because my wrist/arm did a funny and my suitcase ended up on the floor. I grabbed it quickly, got off the train and then accessed the damage. My wrist/hand was a little sore but no permanent damage. I decided I’d keep an eye on it and if it’s really bad, I’d cross that bridge when I got there.

I walked through the station – or what there is of a station, Sutton Coldfield station is smaller than I think I expected it to be given how close we are to the city. Then loaded the directions on my phone. Google’s directions involved a public footpath between some houses so I put my phone away and power walked. At one point my hood up to look scarier or something lol. I followed the rest of the directions and easily found my host’s house. My host was super lovely and was in the middle of making dinner as I arrived so she just added the finishing touches. My host, her friend and I got chatting and it was lovely to get to know one another and how my host knows our mutual friend (who helped me finding somewhere to stay for the night). We had dinner then shared our desserts. I then headed off upstairs. I didn’t want to seem rude but then also I didn’t want to be in the way. I’d come prepared with things to do to occupy myself and with an internet connection there’s always Netflix (or the new episode of Cold Feet that just came up on my notifications!).

So that’s Monday complete. Tomorrow I’m off back to the station to catch the train back into Birmingham then off to find my way to the venue. Hoping I will bump into some friendly faces on the way. A lovely lady called Rachel from Ashby Interiors has been chatting to me lots so I’m hoping when we meet in person we get on as well too! Right, time to schedule this post for the morning and then head to bed. Now that the bathroom is free I think I’ll get ready for bed and snuggle down in the bed. The house is a bit colder than I think I’m used to in our house so although my hands are warm from typing. My feet are cold!